LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Tire dealer Les Schwab and two inventors—Rudy Hollman, developer of the Orbitread, and Donald M. MacMillan, maker of retread molds—will be inducted into the International Tire Retreading and Repairing Hall of Fame, April 17, during the International Tire & Rubber Association's World Tire Conference and Exhibition in Louisville. Mr. Schwab started Les Schwab Tire Centers, one of the largest independent tire dealerships and retreaders in North America, with a small retread shop and one employee in 1952.
The Prineville, Ore.-based dealership now employs more than 2,000 people and operates more than 180 locations throughout the Northwest.
Mr. Schwab developed a reputation for treating his employees as part of a large family and created profit-sharing plans that are akin to partnerships. Mr. Schwab has said his business built its prestige with good employees, good service, warranties in writing and complete honesty.
Mr. Hollman, who died in 1992, was an engineer with AMF Voit Rubber Co. In the 1950s, he developed the idea of strip winding for tire retreading, which led to the debut of the Orbitread Series 100 model for passenger retreading in 1963.
The Orbitread was the first high-tech machine for the retread industry. It eliminated the need for die size rubber by programming the rubber on individual tires, did away with splice-making and helped increase productivity.
Mr. MacMillan, who died in 1965, created a fullcircle steam retread mold in 1924 after realizing that in order to be serviceable, a new tread had to be vulcanized to the tire. In 1938, he invented the first successful electric mold and formed the MacMillan Electric Mold and Rubber Co. to manufacture and sell the equipment and distribute his own rubber compounds.
He later sold the company and founded Donald MacMillan and Son which produced adjustable electric passenger, medium and large truck tire vulcanizers. He developed a three-section passenger retread mold and a prototype mold capable of retreading military tires in the field.
Mr. MacMillan later formed the Den-Nap Mold Co. and was instrumental in establishing Electro-Cap Mold Co. Both companies manufactured variations of his original mold. He then distributed MacMillan molds to Michelin dealers in the U.S. and Canada and eventually created the ``H'' mold and pioneered plaster casting retread matrices.